Kinda can't stop thinking about this Rick Rubin interview.
I’ve been thinking a lot about honor, discretion, gossip.
Honor doesn’t feel like a great word anymore. Few versions of honor feel honest. It seems honor mostly rewards discretion—a measure of one’s temerity, a competitive analysis of silence. My family members would describe someone trustworthy as one who is able to hold secrets. Honor in my family means something like, “he never complained.”
I am choosing to validate trust with honesty and dependability, instead, but no longer rely on vacuums of disclosure to determine one’s faith in me.
Discretion is important, legally. I get that. I do not want to get involved in slander or libel. But I am not one to mince words, and my threshold for gossip is low. We need the whisper network on the supremacists and overlords, to know how to prevent harm and remain safe. But even generally speaking, I do not see the total value in protecting information about people that is meant to be helpful, and that includes information about myself. I wear my heart on my sleeve and your heart, too; a boutonniere on my chest. Please understand that this is why I tell you everything. It is your privilege and my honor, to share. Information.
The most important version of transparency and gossip, though, is to be belligerent in one’s praise of others. Someone tweeted this and I wish I could remember who it was: Get caught more often saying nice things about someone behind their back! Really, though. As corny as it sounds, it’s a good practice.
I hope everybody knows how I love them. I wish to let people know the way in which I love them. The volume with which I love them. The tenor and texture of my love for them.
The knowledge of my love should please you. I hope knowing that I love you is enough, and that if I love you madly, it is because you are infinitely available for my love. Madness is endlessness. If my love is muted or mundane, you are lucky still. It’s like blood. All measures count.
Due in no part to their behavior, I became really insecure about personal disclosure and “feelings art” during a few recent interactions with musicians who’d invited me to jam. Insecurities protect us from heartbreak. I’m sure this has to do with fearing abandonment or something else annoyingly old in my brain.
Ironically, it was the “better” jam session (the one I easily wanted to repeat again) that made me feel so self-reflective. It was a great jam session with a woman whose work I admire, and part of what made it awesome was that we talked at length about our feelings. These are not conversations I have with the men in my band, with whom I share a whole other kind of ecstatic connection. So there I was, unapologetically speaking personal truths; an actor in the theater of sentiment. With an interlocutor. Bless.
But the insecurity began when I thought of my credentials. Were we allowed to have this conversation if we didn’t first “master the craft”? I heard this nagging voice anew—why must you be so feminine? Rationalizing myself with my own goddamned credentials goes beyond mere imposter syndrome. It is questioning the ability to say the truth. What if I told you the reason I play music was that I am mentally imbalanced? What if I told you the reason I play music is that I don’t know how else to trust my connection to myself?
I suppose this applies to my other areas of expertise, too, but it’s especially the case with music that when I am asked about my basis of knowledge, the only answer that feels even remotely true, is that I know nothing. I know absolutely nothing. Is there honor in this kind of silence?
So I dunno if this makes you think about the Rick Rubin 60 Minutes interview clip that’s been making the social media rounds this week but I sure keep ruminating on that clip. In it he says he has zero skills. Yes it’s more than a little annoying to hear a successful white male producer brag about his so-called incompetence, and his pseudo-guru persona is off-putting, but I feel so strongly that he was right to articulate this. I’m no sort of super-anything, but every version of my credentials feels like a giant lie. The truth is actually ACTUALLY that the only reason any of it matters is that I am drowning in pure emotion. When asked for the paperwork to validate my right to be here, I want to scream. I will articulate it but I feel like a hot shower afterward, every time. Even diminished versions of the brag feel like a lie. Self denial begins to feel like the only thing my head can accept.
And this brings me back to the importance of being able to talk about other people. This is really crucial so pay attention: I really, honestly, truly, need everybody to know how I love them. Maybe that’s all Rick Rubin is good at, too. Loving his musicians. (I have no clue what he’s like so this is a pure hypothetical.) I need to tell you about all these amazing people. The best things I have to say about you won’t necessarily be to your face. I think that’s a vital part of the love—it should be gossiped. Mostly, I want to lead your cheer. And you see, it’s finally hit me that this may be what I meant when I said I have the conviction of pouring all of my energy into supporting other artists. It is sheer terror to speak on one’s own behalf. I hope you know I want you to and encourage you to speak about me behind my back. I prefer this to answering questions about my learned identities.
I will continue to make art to please you with it. I beg god to let me be enough. Let me be enough and I will celebrate you forever.